The Person Who Invented “Please Call Me” Service Now Demands More Than ZAR 10 Bn From Vodacom

By  |  August 19, 2019

Please Call Me is a free service established back in 2001, the service enables mobile phone users to send a text message requesting to be called back.

One Nkosana Makate invented the service and then pitched the concept to Phillip Geissler, his then-boss and head of product development at Vodacom South Africa.

Vodacom took the idea and Makate was promised his share of the fortune when the service kicked off in 2001.

Both parties then reached a consensus and Geissler told Makate that he would hold talks with the company about the remuneration.

The legal battle began in 2008 when Makate took the matter to the high court. Initially, the telecom with over 55 million subscribers denied reports that its Please Call Me service was invented by Makate. Allegedly, the company had also denied it had assented to compensate Makate despite a verbal agreement with the then head of product development.

The Constitutional court in April of 2016 ruled that the telecom was bound to an agreement that Makate had with Geissler. The court further directed that the company begins a dialogue with Makate for a reasonable payout.

Makate who is a former employee of Vodacom initially demanded 15 per cent of the Please Call Me proceeds.

Early this year Vodacom claimed it is offering a reasonable settlement to Makete and that the matter was “finally settled and closed.” The assertions were later rubbished by Makate who claimed he had not been requited.

The long-running battle has yet again taken another twist after Makate resorted to court demanding more money from Vodacom. Makate publicly disclosed that Vodacom offered him a settlement of ZAR 47 Mn during his latest compensation talks.

Among other things, Makate’s latest high court application seeks to review the latest settlement offer, he also wants the telecom forced to reveal revenue generated from Please Call Me service since its launch in 2001.

The former Vodacom employee said calculations done by his legal team shows Vodacom has earned ZAR 205 Bn in revenue from the Please Call Me service since 2001. He also wants to be paid 5 per cent of total revenue that Please Call Me has generated from March 2001 including the interest accumulated over the period.

Makate believes that the telco owes him a settlement of ZAR 10.2 Bn, excluding accrued interest and legal fees incurred since the Constitutional Court judgment. He said the ZAR 47 Mn settlement offered “is merely 0.023 per cent”

“There is no sense in which an amount of 0.023 per cent can be said to be a reasonable share of the revenue concerned, which can be up to 85 per cent as in other instances,” he said.

Featured Image Courtesy: SABC News

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